i.e. they would not send a car; they would not take information over the phone. I was told I must file the report online.
When an essential service like Police require you to use a service, it definitely seems like that service has moved from the category of "novelty," or "luxury," into "utility."
There are possibly good reasons for internet providers to continue to be private, but like water and power and other utilities, they should be heavily regulated. Going over a bandwidth cap should not land you in a position where you cannot (e.g.) file a police report after you have been the victim of a crime.
If you were presently witnessing the car being broken into, then that would be 911 level.
EDIT: There is a correlation between my use of the word "absurd" and downvotes.
I'm sure if you were actively watching a crime, 911 would be accepted, but trying to move everything else to an online report seems like a reasonable cost cutting step. If it were possible to take the report online and keep 1-2 cops out for an extra hour, it's probably worthwhile. There should be an exception process for "come in to the station and file on paper", and for in-progress crimes, and for more serious/life threatening crimes, but as a step, this isn't that unreasonable.
Of course, if someone broke into my house here, I'd probably be calling my attorney before I called the Oakland PD.
Agreed, and for clarification, this was not the case for me: I discovered the break-in later; I did not witness it.
More irksome was the operator's suggestion (after telling her my laptop was stolen from the car) that I use a computer at the public library... which didn't open for another ten hours. If I had been robbed on a Saturday night instead of a Friday, I would have had to wait until Tuesday to report (worst case obviously... smartphones and friends, etc. but what if you don't have those?).
Not saying the policy is a good one, but I use it as an illustration of how people are coming to see internet access as universally available and constructing policy against that notion.
In most countries the police are not there to serve your interests, but to protect law and order. This corresponds to your interests only when the law does so. When the law is against your interest, so are the police.
To say something is a "right" is to say that it ought to be available, or that the government should not infringe upon your ability to seek that right unduly. In this case, the author broke the rules of the framework, and thus his right was suspended.
What a right to broadband is not: an irrevocable license to use as much of a shared resource as possible for a fixed price you deem appropriate.
Author, if you're reading, this is why people are saying you sound entitled. You're conflating "rights" with your own viewpoint that you should have unlimited internet access at a fixed price.
If you read this you can see that Comcast does indeed try to convince the consumer that you can transfer any amount of data you want for a fixed monthly fee: http://consumerist.com/2010/03/comcast-unlimited-usage-doesn...
Comcast as what is essentially a public utility operates within a framework of the FCC which creates a non-competitive marketplace so that service providers such as Comcast can ostensibly focus on providing better service to the public rather than focusing on competitive efforts such as better marketing, customer service, etc. The deal between Comcast and the gov't is essentially "We'll take care of competition, you focus on providing great infrastructure to the public"
In a very close to completely free market such as a bakery I'd agree with you but Comcast operates in a different kind of market, also depending on when the person signed up one of the terms marketed might have been "Unlimited Internet" which would suggest that you could consume unlimited services for a fixed price. Also, if there is a 250GB cap then Comcast should just terminate the service for the remainder of the month, and change the wording of their marketing to "Transfer upto 250GB per month for a flat monthly fee"
In a non-competitive market fueled by public expendature I don't see why it would be inappropriate to force service providers to provide access to the infrastructure to all under the same terms.
For example: You pay a fixed price for a fixed amount of bandwidth and your service stops working when you exceed that.
Comcast is the Internet Soup Nazi: "No internet for you! 1 Year!"
The weasely way around that, used certainly by UK ISPs in defending their use of the word "unlimited" is that you have unlimited access (24/7/365.25) rather than unlimited bandwidth use. While they meant "use as much bandwidth as you like" they never specifically said that, so they no claim they didn't mean that and noone can proove otherwise. The claim is that it is unlimited compared to dial-up days when ISPs had to maintain a massive rack of modems so, particularly for cheap or free-call ISPs, you would have limits like "up to X hours per day" and "no session longer than X hours".
So while it can be said to be deceptive and dishonest, it doesn't actually breach truth-in-advertising laws (at least over here).
There is an ISP over here (Sky) making a big thing of actually offering "use as much bandwidth as you can", though there is more weaseling there - there is heavy protocol level traffic shaping which limitis how much you can actually use and there is still a "fair use policy" which is sufficiently vague that it could mean anything.
I pay good money for what is essentially a business account. It has a 300G limit, but that can carry over from month to month and if I go over (unlikely) and don't have any carry-over left from last month they'll just charge me a known rate for the extra (charging by byte, not in much larger blocks). That is the only way (here at least) you can get a proper, unfiltered, unshaped, un-anything-you-didn't-ask-for-ed connection. Pay for what you want and you have a chance of getting what you pay for.
I've shifted over to an FTTC provider - 10Mbit upstream is nice to have especially coupled with as many IPv4 addresses as you can justify for nowt extra (only a /29 for me (all I need) but people get more - you just have to ask and promise to follow RIPE's allocation & use rules) and native IPv6, the upstream is unmetered like Be but not downstream.
Rumour has it Be will need some significant infrastructure updates to keep with that policy when they join the FTTC roll-out unless they make their FTTC based products uncompetitively expensive which they may not be able to afford to do.
The reason I picked Sky is that they are advertising the "unlimited" thing pretty aggressively on TV right now, and I know their network is shaped to buggery as are any other ISPs other than Be (that I know of) who offer "unlimited".
For people interested in Be (I'm happy to recommend them, even though I can no longer get a "referral" discount for doing so!) nip over to https://www.bethere.co.uk/
Most utilities cannot just shut you off. Many states have laws that determine when and how. The biggest thing about a utility though is that you pay for usage. If you want to leave your lights on all day, they really don't care as long as you continue to pay your bill.
Personally, I don't see a problem with metered broadband, and only have a problem with the current pricing structures. Look at the mobile space to see how messed up it can be. Companies set prices at a usage level that is just below what a person really needs so they force people into the next tier with the hopes the person will not actually use it. Instead, I would support a flat rate per GB. I've seen numbers like $6/GB thrown around for mobile (it would obviously be a lot lower for line connected broadband, but you get the idea).
If we do end up with broadband treated as a utility in the US, I would bet that it will be metered and charged for usage. It's the most fair way to support the system and will naturally prevent people from doing something similar to leaving their lights on all day.
If he had paid for a business class account, he'd be fine. I pay Comcast right on $100 a month for 22/8mbps, with 5 static IPs, no throttling, and no caps - I work from home and according to my firewall had approximately 800GB of traffic last month (and that usage is not out of the ordinary).
Depends on what constraints the resource.
If the network's bandwidth isn't used at the moment, not using it won't save any money. (Apart from saving power.)
The point is, I think most consumers are fine with metered data if they feel like it's mostly fair.
I agree, it's not a right, but I think the author is correct in stating that Internet access is an essential utility.
But I think winter certainly adds to the drama, for example cutting off the power to a home when it's -20C outside would be a death sentence if the home was electrically heated.
NOTE: What I wrote above sounds kind of confrontational - it's not. Badly worded, yes, but I believe you and am actually interested in seeing the rules.
It's certainly a common misconception. I certainly know that people in the "which bill do I pay this month" scenario often choose to hold off on paying Hydro during the winter. It's also quite likely that Hydro is less likely to disconnect during the Winter. Frozen water pipes can cause a lot of damage...
In this case, it's even less clear to those not in the know, because the next sentence refers to water pipes.
They do? Where is this the case?
My water and electricity usage have no monthly cap and are only shut off if I fail to pay the bills.
One thing is certain, in no way do I have "unlimited" electricity available at my home.
Contrast this to your ISP. Say they deliver a 15/3 mbps (down/up) service to your home. The actual data transfer usage isn't metered (you pay a fixed price), but there is a cap for residential service. The reason for the cap is that Comcast has to make arrangements for transfer of that data to its destination, which will cross over in to other carrier's networks. Many of these agreements are made on trade between carriers, but if there is an imbalance, Comcast has to pay.
The only alternative is metered transfer. If you had a commercial grade internet connection, you'd already pay based on two factors (sometimes more):
* Available bandwidth
* Data transfer
* (Sometimes) Port capability
Businesses make this decision based on a profile of their usage. Do they need to transfer lots of data at a relatively slow (but consistent) rate? Or do they need to transfer large chunks of data periodically, but very quickly? Maybe they need to transfer lots of data really fast?
Residential customers don't want to think about this. They want to pay a fee and receive service. Comcast built a product around the profile of typical consumer usage. If you go outside that, you get business service, which means you pay for what you use.
This whole notion that unlimited internet for $60/month is some kind of "right" is just preposterous.
> One thing is certain, in no way do I have "unlimited" electricity available at my home.
By that metric, uncapped data is not unlimited, and thus does not need a cap.
> This whole notion that unlimited internet for $60/month is some kind of "right" is just preposterous.
It's not unlimited since it's (by your own account) 15/3. That's a limitation right there, identical to your 150 amp service. And you can not exceed that limit period (you won't even get close to it, really). No need for a breaker.
It is one form of limitation, but it is not the most relevant.
The point is that Comcast has to pay for the transfer of data in and out of their network. So they have two choices:
* Meter your data transfer and charge a base fee for available bandwidth (just like commercial usage)
* Throttle your bandwidth so that you cannot exceed a set monthly transfer amount
Do you really want either? I don't. Assuming you want the later option, here's the breakdown:
250 GB -> 2,000 Gb (gigabits)
There are 2,678,400 seconds in a month.
2,000 Gb per 2,678,400 seconds
Reduced is: 0.0007467145 Gb per 1 second
Multiply by a factor of 1,048,576 (kilobits in a gigabit) and you get: 782.9868578256 kbps
To cap you at 250 GB per month (which their model is built around), you'd end up with an internet connection that is roughly the speed of an entry-level DSL connection (768 kbps DSL).
Does that make any sense to anyone? You can't simply wash away the cost of transferring the data in and out of their network with some government mandate.
The other option is to pay for metered bandwidth. This means the additional overhead of metering each customer, as well as the additional billing infrastructure. Not an impossible problem, but it's a lot of data to track, and the overhead is undeniable, so you'll end up getting more for less.
We could all cooperate and agree that there is a "typical" consumer use case with a soft ceiling of 250 GB of transfer per month. If can't operate within that ceiling, you should look in to a business-class connection where the pricing models fit your needs better.
Real competition, yes, that is the big influence. Sadly, in way to many locations in the US, one's broadband choices are limited to one or two providers.
If every location where Comcast operated broadband service there were four other equivalent providers of the same service, they would not ever think of cutting someone off for a year or limiting them to 250G/month of up+down transfers. These kinds of tactics are what monopolies do, simply because they can.
If I've made a mathematical error, or misstated a fact, I'm happy to concede the point.
You also haven't said how much it costs a company like Comcast to pay for transit of their customers' data. You haven't given anyone reason to believe that transit actually is the dominant cost to a residential ISP.
I can't answer the second question because I can't see Comcast's peering agreements. I do know that they're not always comfortable (see last year's Comcast/Level 3 dispute), but as the FCC pointed out, peering agreements are a private matter.
I'm playing devil's advocate here to some degree. I get that everyone wants to see an improvement in the availability and cost of broadband in the states. No question about it, but this article is about a person who used 250 GB of data in a month on a residential connection. I'd love too see a histogram that shows the distribution of data transfer usage per customer, but Comcast doesn't publish that information, so I'm left to assume that the fact that very few people encounter that limit is proof that it's pretty far above the norm. Feeding the sense of entitlement that this type of usage should be allowed is not how we'll make progress here.
Actually in this case you get banned for a year without recourse.
It baffles me why they didn't just try to upsell the guy.
Comcast business service is actually a bargain, at least around here. You pay maybe $15-$20/month more than you would for bare-bones residential service, you get to run servers if you want, suck down all the Netflix you can watch, and you get instant access to US-based tech support. Also, my understanding is that the various MAFIAA BitTorrent enforcers avoid targeting business-class IP ranges because unlike Grandma in her basement, businesses tend to put up a fight.
I wouldn't even think about going back to a residential account at this point. Given my household's usage patterns, I can't imagine Comcast makes any more money off of me than they would if I had a residential account, so I wouldn't expect them to upsell me aggressively if they were otherwise trying to get rid of me.
The big difference between electricity and bandwidth is that electricity has to be produced and this involves considerable expense. Bandwidth is always there so long as the equipment is powered on, which ends up being a marginal cost in the scheme of things.
Look at how power is priced: $/KWH. Bandwidth is priced at $/Gbit. Not Gbyte, but Gbit. You pay for capacity and usage comes along for free.
Let's say you and I go in to business together and build a microwave wireless internet service. There is commodity equipment available that can push 100 mbps pretty easily. We buy a microwave transmission tower and central office from a company that is going out of business at a rate that cannot be beat. We price out our customer premises equipment so that we make half our money back on the setup fee, so setup costs are minimal.
We're now ready for business. We can provide 100 mbps internet service to customers with minimal equipment cost. Sweet!
Here's the rub. Unless our customers are content to transfer data only between themselves, we're going to need some outside connectivity. We need to peer with all the major networks. So we try to set up peering agreements with ATT, Level 3, and UUNet. The problem is, they have no need to transmit data over our networks, so we have a huge imbalance. We have to pay for every single bit our customers transmit.
It's time to rethink our 100 mbps bandwidth policy, is it not?
Just because we can transmit at 100 mbps to the customer, doesn't mean we can afford for them to use all that bandwidth all the time. There is a cost associated with transferring data over partner networks, and someone has to pay that cost. Comcast's residential pricing model does so in a way that is dead simple for consumers. If you don't fit that model, you should purchase business service.
What about all the bits your customers receive? You sound like you're at least somewhat familiar with peering agreements, so I'd like to know how that part works. If your customers are mostly receiving instead of sending, wouldn't those bits be paid for by the ones sending the bits?
For that matter, why can I get 200GB/mo at 50mbit/s plus a server for $20 from a VPS provider, and $.15/GB beyond that ($.10 if purchased in advance in the case of Linode)? Why do consumer ISPs need to charge so much more?
Based on your arguments in this and other posts, they have caps because they have to pay for the outgoing bandwidth. Why not just charge $.15/GB over the cap? Last mile infrastructure doesn't account for the difference, since it has a mostly fixed cost of construction and operation. Interfering with other oversubscribed customers can't explain it either, since everyone gets a fair and equal share of the pipe when the pipe is overloaded.
Your questions regarding the fees for bandwidth are especially relevant. More things I can't address, because I don't know Comcast's costs for transport or last mile.
When I say that consumers won't/don't want a metered internet plan, I'm basing this on what's in the market and basic consumer tendencies toward simplicity. Metered services have a tendency to make customers feel "nickel & dime'd". Put plainly, consumers will choose a flat rate service over a metered service, even if the metered service would result in a lower bill . It's basic risk aversion.
I'm of the opinion that "free market" ISP solutions aren't working out all that well. The necessity of public land-use rights in order to reach the last mile severely limits competition in the ISP space. I think that a good first step toward fixing the problem would be forcing some more transparency on ISPs. I'd love to know what's going on behind closed doors. I'd love to know who pays who. I'd love to know just how Comcast's transport costs break down.
Until we know some of these details, it's mostly speculation (yes, especially on my part), but I think there are some reasonable assumptions to be made.
1 - http://www.canavents.com/its2008/abstracts/109.pdf
The ISP has to maintain and upgrade thousands of miles of physical plant to deliver data to customer's homes in the geographic regions they cover. For a typical cable ISP for instance there's about 3-5 miles of copper between your modem and the the fiber node and typically dozens of miles between the fiber node and the provider's headend/datacenter where they uplink to the Internet -- which incidentally for smaller rural ISPs may itself be hundreds of miles away from competitive rates on data. Going back to the cost of maintaing/upgrading the infrastructure a small plant of only ~1000 miles typically requires at least a dozen full time employees simply to maintain it day to day and that's not including things like management, network engineers, customer service, technical support, equipment, contracted labour, customer installation, etc. On top of that you've got the cost of leasing access to the poles/underground conduits and the cost of powering the 3-5 miles of plant plus whatever operational costs you have to put gas into your fleet of vehicles, the cost of the vehicles themselves, insurance, etc. When you put this all together you're looking at some pretty huge overhead on the consumer side of Internet access plus whatever profit the company wants to make to justify all of the above. It's not a charity after all.
Your ISP may have a 10Gbit uplink in their headend but that does not extend to your home. In reality with 4 channel DOCSIS 3 bonding the speed available "on-the-wire" is about ~150Mbit/sec and it's shared between about 200 customers at minimum. (in reality it's usually a lot closer to 300-500 customers) So if 15 customers out of the 200 want to use 10Mbit/sec 24x7 there is no bandwidth left over for the other 190 customers.
Just to be clear this part is not strictly an infrastructure challenge as the physical cable plant is not inherently limited to ~150Mbit/sec. It simply depends how many DOCSIS channels are being sent out and how many customers share them. They originate from a CMTS in the provider's headend. A fully loaded CMTS sets you back about $500-$750k. So cable ISPs figured out capping data can save them quite a lot of money. The alternative is a) they make less money b) they charge the customer more. We know A certainly isn't going to happen in a non-competitive market and B is something most customers would not like so we get c) capping.
Telco or FTTH are a completely different beast though. Much harder to justify capping there. For telco it's usually because there is a limited uplink to the DSLAM. As of a few years ago it was not uncommon to have a few T1s feeding a DSLAM. FTTH is rarely capped because the fiber that goes to your home is capable of pushing 10Gbit/sec with the right optics. WISPS have the same issue as cable -- in fact WiMAX is very similar to DOCSIS and some WISPs actually do use DOCSIS over wireless at 10Ghz.
I realize that the cable is shared, but remain unconvinced that a flat cap is in any way better than other solutions (such as dividing available bandwidth proportionally among active users, with higher-paying customers getting a larger slice). It shouldn't matter if someone's using their 10mbit/s 24/7, it should only matter if they're using it during peak hours. On the flip side, the "average" user who wants to stream Hulu, Youtube, and Netflix is likely to be doing their streaming at the same time as most other customers, causing more degradation to other customers' experience per hour of usage than the heavy downloaders. Capping the heavy users doesn't change the fact that the average users all want to stream video at the same time.
Also, how can the cable company possibly offer me the 50+mbit/s connection for which I currently pay over $100/mo if the 4 256-QAM downstream channels (totaling ~150mbit/s as you said) are shared by so many customers? Those channels only use 24MHz of the total spectrum.
As for the 50Mbit on a 150Mbit bonding group -- that's he magic of oversubscription. It's amazing how little bandwidth people actually use. The number of heavy users who are doing 50Mbit/sec non-stop are really the fringe cases. It's actually quite hard to figure out how to max out a 50 or 100mbit/sec for long periods of time. The traffic patterns are extremely bursty. For example a single uncapped modem's traffic. (in MB/sec)
(120Mbit/sec is the bottleneck of my router)
That's not a cap, that's a throughput limitation, just like with an ISP. I'd be surprised if they stopped you from using your full 36kW 24/7 for a month as long as you were paying your $4k electric bill on time.
The reason for the cap is that Comcast has to make arrangements for transfer of that data to its destination, which will cross over in to other carrier's networks. Many of these agreements are made on trade between carriers, but if there is an imbalance, Comcast has to pay.
How does this square with Comcast charging Netflix for access to its customers? If Netflix is paying for the bandwidth, why do the customers have to pay as well?
The only alternative is metered transfer.
I think most people would be happy with metered transfer, but only if it is perfectly transparent and out of the control of the big media and pay TV companies. The metered price would have to reflect the decreasing costs of providing bandwidth, peering agreements would have to be open to public scrutiny, etc. The metered cost should start at something like $.10/GB and decrease over time, with a $5/mo connection fee to cover the amortized installation costs. There could be no allowance for ridiculous overage fees or total transfer caps.
It sounds like the analogy here would be having an internet connection that has a maximum throughput of X. If you want X+Y, where Y is larger than zero, then you would have to buy a larger throughput connection. Once that's done, you'd be free to use it as much as you want, provided you pay for that usage.
That doesn't seem to be the case in the linked article here.
If Comcast has built a business around a 250 GB/month cap, they'd have to throttle your connection to 783 kbps to keep you under that cap (assuming you used your maximum connection all the time).
That call is not yours to make. It was Comcast's to make, before they advertised exactly that. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission frowns on false advertising.
"Oh but that's different" - not really. Same thing would have happened if my friend was intentionally trying to fill his basement with water.
Water Company Guy: "Just checking, we think there might be a burst pipe around here somewhere. Have you noticed some flooding?"
Your friend: "No. I'm just filling up my pool however, but everything is fine."
Company guy: "Ah, ok. Excellent. Have a nice day!"
Anyway this would be an easy question to answer if someone called a water utility and asked.
Sure, but if he called and stated that, they'd likely turn it back on and bill him for the usage.
With cable modem pooling it can approach scarce resource status, but typically your modem does not "run out of bandwidth".
They're limiting the amount of data not because it's scarce, but because that forces people to limit their throughput - since if you use at the max levels, it'd reach the data caps in no time - because they're overselling too much and don't want to pay for the infrastructure upgrade.
Comcast does not charge by the megabyte.
Instead, it is all you can eat, until Comcast says that is all you can eat.
This guy was actually using his residential account for business purposes.
No. A year or two ago, Comcast clarified their position on bandwidth usage as allowing you to use 250GB a month. This is now visible on their account, although I always have to poke around to get it: After logging in at comcast.com, go to the Users and Settings tab and look in the middle column. There's a link there to click that will let you look at your last three months history. I have 16GB in April, 80 in May, 57 in June, and 7 on my current billing cycle. They no longer advertise "all you can eat" and you are provided tools to see what is going on.
It is still bizarre to me that you can't pay for more usage, and you are free to disagree with the policy in philosophy or in detail, or to be annoyed at how much brow-beating it took to get Comcast to this point, but they are no longer just randomly cutting you off when you silently cross an arbitrary standard. It is now cutting you off when you cross a public threshold, and you can easily see where they think you are in the month.
250GB ÷ 15MB/sec = 4 hours 36 minutes
Doesn't it seem a little odd that you can blow through an entire month's service in less than a day?
1. so what? Should every telecommuter get a business SDSL?
2. his consulting business is not the reason why he went overcap, hobbies and personal matter are
"I work as a entertainment industry consultant, and depend on cloud services such as Dropbox, Simplenote, Google Apps, and Google Docs for day to day work. I use streaming online services such as Netflix, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and Pandora every day for both work and play."
Not sure where you get SDSL from cable modems, either.
Irrelevant. You imply, bordering on asserting, that using residential accounts for business purpose. That's precisely what telecommuters do.
So I ask again: should every telecommuter get a business line?
Furthermore he's using the same line for business and private use, should he get two different accounts? Should every telecommuter in the world get two different accounts to please you?
Finally, do you know for sure Comcast does not have the same kind of limitations on their business accounts than they do on their non-business accounts?
A better way of putting this would be "electronic access to the world web of information and services is becoming an extension of our brains, and as such some degree of connectivity should be considered a public commons that the government is required to provide to each citizen, much the same as parkland, airspace, or waterways."
This implies that some parts of infrastructure are private (personal access devices), some parts are public (perhaps a limited amount of bandwidth donated to the public in return for use of the airwaves), and some are commercial (the infrastructure from the ISP to the rest of the net).
Each segment in this scheme has special needs, responsibilities, and privileges. Using the word "right" as a blanket statement doesn't cut it -- it begins to substitute ranting for reasoning. I sympathize with the author, but their problem is lack of competition, not abuse of their rights.
Ok. Sure, the data cap sucks, but this guy broke a Comcast policy, got a warning, and then broke the policy again. I'm not surprised he got cut off.
I do not recall details on how long the cut off would be, likely because I spent the next few minutes working with the service agent to add notes to my record about my detailed displeasure with Comcast's policy here. I specifically noted (and asked that it be recorded) that if this happened again I would contact the FCC, various news organizations, and otherwise make a stink. The CS agent was polite and reactivated my broadband.
Wha? Why would the FCC or news orgs care that you exceeded your broadband cap? And why are you threatening the service rep?
This whole thing stinks of irresponsibility and entitlement. This guy ignored or didn't care about the whole data caps thing (which was announced a long time ago), didn't pay attention to his warning from Comcast, and now he got burned by it and suddenly decides unlimited broadband is his right. Too late.
That is not entitlement at all. If anything it was ignorance of the fact that your upload data is also measured against the cap.
I agree with him about going to the FCC. The fact that he has no where to turn to purchase a competing service means that Comcast can dictate peoples internet usage behavior. My question would be is does the 250g data cap apply when they are watching TV/Movies online via Comcast (XFinity) provided services?
This. I would never have guessed upstream was counted. I thought this was only about downstream bandwidth.
>> Common activities that may cause excessive data consumption in violation of this Policy include, but are not limited to,
numerous or continuous bulk transfers of files and other high capacity traffic using
(i) file transfer protocol (“FTP”),
(ii) peer-to-peer applications, and
And in a world where we no longer have unlimited data plans on our phones; I am suprised people forget about the data used while uploading...
Updated: formatting and clairification.
Of course not, nor Comcast's VOIP service.
Yes it does. But, of course it doesn't apply to the On Demand services on Comcast Cable, which is where they want to push customers at.
The "This." meme contributes nothing to the post and is the worst kind of contentless bandwagonism.
"This." is lazy and degrades the quality of the site in general.
"Oh, I don't like your word choice, so I'm going to downvote you regardless of the content."
Then again, if you are replying "This." perhaps the better way to go would be with a simple upvote. But that would really only be expressive if we could see vote counts again.
However, a content-free message of simply "this." does deserve a downvote.
Writing in leetspeek is equally objectionable, for instance, and people do downvote those who write that way on HN.
Explaining yourself and adding an original thought is contributing, but saying "This." is not contributing and degrades the quality of the post and HN in general.
> The issue isn't "word choice" it is tone and writing style.
> Writing in leetspeek is equally objectionable, for instance, and people do downvote those who write that way on HN.
In my opinion, a comment that is simply "this." should get no votes at all, whereas a comment that is entirely in leetspeak should be downvoted into oblivion. Killing readability is a far greater sin than simply failing to realize that the upvote button exists for a reason.
It might not bring new information, but it tells the reader that the rest of the post should be read in a context of agreement with the parent post, so it's useful.
This mirrors what happened to me. I was given an automated warning. I called the security number but they wouldn't tell me what sort of traffic I should be looking for. They didn't even have a bandwidth meter rolled out in my area at the time! I had to guess what my bandwidth usage was for the next few months. I even called to make sure that I was under the cap, but they wouldn't tell me anything at all. "I'm sure you're fine" the rep said. And then they cut me off. (Turns out it was a misconfigured bittorrent client, but at least I knew that upload counted toward the cap.) I at least managed to switch to a business account, which isn't too much more expensive and has no cap. Last month I pushed over 1TB, no complaints.
Down here we've got Cox, with the same 250GB cap, and business accounts are literally $180 per month more expensive than the residential accounts. I pay $69.99 at home and $250.00 at the office for the exact same service.
He obviously wasn't that careful. There are dozens of apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux that can tell you how much bandwidth you're using; it's trivial to set one up, watch your throughput, and start killing off apps until you see what's doing all the work.
He seems to be technically-minded enough to understand core concepts, so why wouldn't he understand that uploading all of his content (his images, his music, etc.) to the cloud is going to use up his bandwidth? It seems obvious to me.
Sure, for that machine. So I suppose he could go out and bet a new box, set it up as the router, and then monitor traffic.
Just like I have to install my own electric meter... wait. Or like how I have to install my own flow measuring va... wait again.
My newish (~$100) Netgear wireless router actually has a Traffic Meter feature which monitors my traffic on a monthly basis and can warn me when I get close to nearing that cap. Its a worthwhile investment if you're being warned about your traffic.
Really? I've never seen one that has it, and I highly doubt the feature was introduced before these data caps became a problem. Even if most wireless routers have the feature, I doubt most people find it "not too difficult to use." My parents, for example, can't even be bothered to learn to use the scheduling feature of their own recently-purchased router (which does not have a traffic meter).
As for the router's scheduling feature, it's for scheduling routing rules, so certain computers can't access certain destinations during certain hours. I've no use for it in my own house, but I think it would solve a particular use case for my parents, if only they'd be willing to use it.
In fact, my boss/company owner, who lives outside Scottsdale, who can't get more than 144kbps IDSL got so sick of things that he ordered a first, then a second bonded T1 to his house, without any hiccups.
Yes it makes us non-free, but it is exactly what the man wants.
It's a legitimate problem.
So what else is new. Greyhound fucked over a lot of small cities 5 to 6 years ago by cutting service to them. I'm now a $80 cab ride to any public transport except Amtrack; and Amtrack is really limited both in times and where it goes.
However, to be fair, Comcast isn't very "open" with regard to the policy. You log in, see a graph, click "details" and get some mumbo jumbo about only 99% of users exceeding the cap. Clicking "Learn more" takes you to a page that is filled with questions that will deter many users (similar to a EULA - who "really" reads those?!) Up until this blog post, I had absolutely no idea they counted upstream against the cap (I thought it was just downstream)!
Sure, it's my fault -- I didn't dig deep enough to find this line in the FAQ:
"Data usage, also known as bandwidth usage, is the amount of data, such as images, movies, photos, videos, and other files that customers send, receive, download or upload over a specific period of time."
Then again, maybe they should just plainly state that on their site somewhere that both uploads and downloads count against my cap?
As a Comcast subscriber, in a similar situation where I am uploading a LOT of data (for work, and cloud based services), this was a rude awakening. Fortunately for me, I'm not using nearly as much bandwidth as he is (last month, I hit 100GB) - but I still wish Comcast was more open. Especially with the world moving towards a more "cloud" based computing (with on demand video!) I mean, their "typical/median use" is laughable in this day and age:
Data usage changes over time as our customers use the Internet and the services and applications available for it. Currently, the median data usage by XFINITY Internet customers is approximately 4 - 6 GB each month (these numbers may vary on a monthly basis). This reflects typical residential use of the service for purposes such as sending and receiving email, surfing the Internet, and watching streaming video.
If they want to cap, they need to cap customers with a technical solution.
Here, Comcast is saying "we don't want you as a customer", which they're allowed to do, but doesn't generate very much goodwill. Having a clear cap and predictable consequences would be much preferred.
I don't know why they also couldn't put a little meter on your comcast.net homepage, showing how much you've used.
This is how most sane ISPs deal with it. I really cannot see how disconnecting your customers completely is a better solution - there's certainly no technical reason for it, given that (IIRC) Comcast already have throttling measures for BitTorrent users.
Right now, that doesn't exist in the broadband market. And as with any other market that requires high levels of infrastructure investment, I'm becoming less and less convinced that it can exist.
Isn't Comcast abusing their position here to protect their cable business? My friends recently got cut off for going over their limit; well they went over their limit because its a house of 4 using Netflix and downloading games on Steam all the time. This seems obvious to me but nobody else is bringing it up so I must be missing something.
In many markets Comcast is the only option, and they aren't offering connection upgrades or pay per gb. This is the part that doesn't seem right. This is the part that makes me think they are just railing against Netflix users.
If you have a written service contract with your provider that does not explicitly state the service has a bandwidth cap, then how can them shutting off or artificially limiting your access speed /not/ be a breach of contract?
Even if there is a clause in the contract about the traffic cap - without them explicitly informing you of the clause, wouldn't you be able to claim deceptive advertising?
Regardless, if what you're saying is accurate then the legal system over there is seriously fucked up.
They're not saying "You're over the limit; you're in breach of contract." They're saying "You don't make us enough money. You're no longer our customer."
Tyranny of the last mile still exists, and isn't going away any time soon.
I was actually so annoyed by this (and by Qwest's advertising around town about their high-speed Internet options) that I sent a letter and e-mail to the president of Qwest Arizona, Jim Campbell, asking if Qwest would roll out real broadband to my apartment complex any time soon. To Qwest's credit, his assistant replied (this was back in Jan. 2010) to say no. She's sent an e-mail every six months or so with an update on the situation.
The upshot: Comcast or fuck off.
Imagine this scenario playing out somewhere where even less options exist, like a rural town in the midwest... you get cut off, you can switch to what? Dial-up?
He was exceeding his limits, and received a couple of warnings. I'm not a fan of Comcast by any means, but it seems to me that in this case he should have upgraded to a plan that would accommodate his needs. Uploading terabytes of AV data to Carbonite isn't going to work very well over standard residential uplink speeds anyway.
Or pay for a second line. It sounds like he and all his friends and random guests were all using a single line. That's not how Comcast envisioned its usage, and their usage caps reflect that.
Don't get me wrong. I think they handled this really poorly. But I don't think he paid enough attention to the situation, either.
Qwest owns the lines and although has announced greater speeds planned for the Seattle area, few have received them.  Verizon tried to bring fiber-to-the-home, mostly on the outskirts of Seattle, and has since abandoned the market.  The city of Seattle studied fiber in 2005 but decided they need a partner. After Qwest and Verizon fell through, the mayor applied for Google's Fiber for Communities in 2010 , but didn't get it. Now in 2011, the only company delivering fiber in Seattle is... Comcast.  Qwest, now becoming CenturyLink, doesn't have any publicized current plans to improve service.
I'm not arguing that highspeed broadband is a right, but Comcast definitely has a chokehold on the majority of the Seattle broadband market.
On the cable side, Comcast "competes" with Broadstripe. Broadstripe has both terrible customer service and poor internet service. Broadstripe also happens to have a bunch of apartment and condo complexes covered in an exclusivity agreement. Broadstripe makes Comcast look great in almost every regard.
On the DSL side it's true that Speakeasy is available, but if you are willing to ignore customer service, Qwest DSL is almost always dramatically cheaper. It's a good option, but sometimes not available above 1.5mbps, even in extremely central areas like Belltown, which is a neighborhood of condos and apartments directly adjoining downtown.
I'm on Comcast residential now and I'm pretty happy with it compared to my past experiences with all the companies I mentioned above, but next time I move within Seattle I now know one of the top questions to ask is what kind of internet access options the place has.
DSL in general is slow in Seattle because the city hasn't spent much effort in upgrading its (or encouraging telecoms to upgrade their) old copper telecom infrastructure. When line lengths aren't just really long, they're often running over corroding 40 and 50 year-old copper. In about half the buildings I've lived in, the NID was still the very old nut-and-bolt screw down terminal style interfaces. 66 and 110 blocks? What are those?
I hate it! But there are no other options in my neighborhood, except Comcast. I even live in Oakland. If I was in SF, I could get Astound, which I hear is awesome. But in Oakland, where I live, it's Comcast or something super inferior.
Speakeasy has had about 10X more outages this year than they have had over the past 12 years, BTW.
1. Satellite Broadband
2. Wireless Broadband(most wireless co's slow bandwidth by 15% after bandwidth cap is exceeded and do not cut off) In building use buy a $200 Wilson Wireless amplifier
The only wireless broadband provider now who doesn't chargis for over usage is Sprint. If he is cut off from that, the situation repeats itself. There is no competition, and that is the main problem.
You do not need to have a business location to do this, or actually have a business. They will sell you small business cable internet at your residential apartment.
You can say there "should" be better deals available. But it doesn't do any good. If you think it's so easy to provide better internet then start a company.
Natural monopolies have long been recognized as a good target for government involvement, like public goods: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Natural_monop...
Because sitting idly watching ISP's ratchet up costs and lower the quality of service sure is getting things done.
The vast majority - more than 99% - of our customers will not be impacted by a 250 GB monthly data usage threshold. If you exceed more than 250 GB, you may receive a call from the Customer Security Assurance ("CSA") team to notify you of excessive use. At that time, we will tell you exactly how much data you used. When we call you, we try to help you identify the source of excessive use and ask you to moderate your usage, which the vast majority of our customers do voluntarily. If you exceed 250GB again within six months of the first contact, your service will be subject to termination and you will not be eligible for either residential or commercial internet service for twelve (12) months. We know from experience that most customers curb their usage after our first call. If your account is terminated, after the twelve (12) month period expires, you may resume service by subscribing to a service plan appropriate to your needs.
They say they will help you identify the reason you went over your cap. "When we call you, we try to help you identify the source of excessive use and ask you to moderate your usage, which the vast majority of our customers do voluntarily." Which they clearly didn't do in this case. This would be acceptable if we had another option for broadband internet, but we don't.
You're suggesting that people only use the internet in certain ways and you're deeming services that you don't use unnecessary for other people.
How did you use the internet five years ago? Does it differ from how you use it now? What about ten years ago? Times change, and the internet changes faster than most things. Every day, there are more people online, more devices online, and more services online to take advantage of.
For some people, 250GB/month is unreasonable. This guy is obviously one of them. In five years, it will be unreasonable for a larger percentage of people, as the way we use the internet evolves. Netflix is the most obvious example of this.
> Just like it's a right for me to speak my mind, but people will still shun me if I insist on doing so at full volume in all venues at all times, in a way that impedes others from enjoying _their_ access to that right.
How do my internet habits interfere with your internet habits? These are not at all analogous.
If 250GB/month is unreasonable, then those people should not be signing up for a 250GB/month service plan. There's nothing stopping him from getting a business plan, for example, with a larger cap or no cap at all. It's not reasonable for this user to expect to dictate both the bandwidth limits _and_ the low price point. Even if we stipulate that internet access is a human right, I don't think it's reasonable to assert that everybody is entitled to unlimited bandwidth to the internet, at somebody else's expense.
> How do my internet habits interfere with your internet habits?
As far as I know, at some point this guy's connection is going through a shared resource, whether that is a switch or router or hub or whatever. Those gadgets only have so much bandwidth available, which is shared amongst all the connections going through it. Sure, most of the time the limit of that hardware vastly exceeds the demands of those connections, but there _is_ a limit, and it is possible (albeit, perhaps, unlikely) that one guy, uploading _terabytes_ of data, could impede his neighbor's ability to enjoy the internet.
He already had one disconnect and chose to ignore it rather than take appropriate steps to modify usage. He agreed to their cap.
The idea that internet service is a right is bizarre bourgeoisie bollocks.
Comcast hasn't contacted me or shut off our service yet, and I hope they don't.
I used to have a DD-WRT router with bandwidth monitoring but we're now using an Apple Airport Extreme, and I don't think it has such capability :/
If you have a Mac always running on the network, you can try freeware app http://www.thotzy.com/THOTZY/Thotz/Entries/2008/10/26_Traffi...
However, I do agree that it's a necessity for modern living, just like the rest of the above. As such, I think it should be protected in the same ways.
How do you propose things change?
Others mentioned not pretending to be unlimited. Actually charge for usage, instead. (I actually hope companies don't do this, as I'm WAY above the norm for usage.)
Another thing that some companies do is limit your speed once you hit the cap. That makes sure that you can do anything you -need- to, but can't go too much further over the cap.
It is amusing to remember how people disparaged pay for usage models just over a decade ago, though. :-)
1. ISPs will structure the rates so that everyone ends up paying more.
2. The early adopters and developers that push technology forward are often at the high end of bandwidth usage, and in exchange for bringing new technology to the masses, the masses should be okay with 0.1% of their bill paying for the early adopters' bandwidth.
Regardless, I'm curious what models people advocate. After all, there appears to be only one electric provider in Seattle. If we were, as proposed, to follow that model, then Comcast could negotiate to be the single service provider and then charge per usage. Is that more desirable than what we have now, where there are multiple providers offering different services at different rates?
If we're to argue for something different, we should be aware of what we're arguing for.
But I'm paying for the super extreme 50mb/sec burst plan for 120/mo so I'm guessing that's the reason they leave me alone
"what are you downloading" -> starcraft replays, also downloading video backups to S3
Bandwidth costs money. So consumer "ISPs" (and I use that term in a very loose sense) tell you what the burst bandwidth is, and then hope that you don't burst very often. When you do, they drop you, because you cost them money. The solution is to just get a real Internet connection. "Business" is the magic word.
The alternative to Comcast's cap strategy is that everyone would be paying $500 a month for Internet access, or you'd be limited to 768kbps with no burst.
Personally, I think Comcast should be stripped of the right to sell net access at all. They're clearly a bad actor.
I like Speakeasy, too (I think they're now called Megapath, though). But around this part of Phoenix, the best they can do is 144 Kbps IDSL and it still costs $120/month. And just because a lot of people confuse Kb and KB, I should mention that, when you account for actual download speeds, you end up with ~15 KB/s, maybe 17-18 KB/s on a good day. And around here, the cable companies cap you at 20 GB/month, which is actually less than you can transfer even on a line this slow.
I don't think that $500/month internet is actually the alternative, though. I think the real alternative is to set things up so that there's real competition in the marketplace, rather than a bunch of regional monopolies and a few small competitive areas.
Otherwise, they'll spend all their time looking for ways to increase revenue by finding new things to charge us for. After all, the whole Net Neutrality thing started up because they were musing about ways to charge people for using services the ISPs don't actually provide, like Google.
Who wrote that policy? Seinfeld?
That's damn ugly monopoly behavior that should be brought to the attention of the FCC.
1) DSL (through ATT or Sonic.net, I got Sonic's ADSL2 service) ~$60 a month, 3.4/0.86 Mbps
2) Monkeybrains local wireless rooftop ISP: $35 a month, ~10/10Mbps, depending on location (large building to the north blocks service to my building)
3) Webpass, same as Monkeybrains, but only handles buildings with like 10+ apartment units, $45 a month, 100/100 or 45/45 Mbps, basically has to already be available where you live, so not me
4) Comcast residential service, ~$60 a month, 22.3/4.34 Mbps, this is what I went with
5) Find someone with a fast internet connection and set up some sort of wireless directional antenna or free space optics to use their connection from the roof - expensive and I don't know anyone with a connection that fast within sight of my building.
Nobody can run fiber because of ATT and Comcast having basically monopolies on running cables anywhere. I mean, the city isn't too proactive anyway in that area, but ATT and Comcast are clearly slowing it down a lot
Whether he wants to admit or not, there are tons of alternatives, he's just too cheap to lay down the cash to get what he needs. Besides telecom company options, there's always satellite as an option.
What ISP could do is still put the cap on and charge extra for every 10GB after that with a small fee. I think most people dont want to pay extra even if it cost several dollars a month. This models the way we pay for gas, power, water too.
But the points are:
- Increase the cap to 500GB for example
- Don't penalize, charge for each extra 10GB
Do they turn a blind eye because I'm on a more expensive plan, or is it because of lack of network congestion in the Mission, or maybe due to the availability of alternative internet service providers?
If you were going to be using the service like that, you should've asked first. Don't try and tell us you 'forgot' that you had a server down stairs moving gigabytes of data around. I wouldn't want you as a customer either.
Cloud and other services that depend on enormous bandwidth costs to be absorbed by others leads to the free rider problem. NetFlix is the biggest free rider around. Their rates do not cover the cost of bandwidth because their basic business model is parasitical.
While 250 gb seems "unlimited" for most of you, 20 gb is not. I suggest you start fighting now.
I'm curious how far over this person went.
I'm not sure what he did to incur their wrath, but it makes me think he was probably exceeding the limit for at least 3 months prior to the warnings.
I lived without internet for a year. I was fine. Nobody shunned me from society and I didn't lose the ability to make money. For a while i'd walk over to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts if I needed an hour of 'net access. When I had to do some interviews from home I went and got a month of Virgin Mobile 3g data for $40.
I do believe everyone should have the right to use the internet, since as a communication tool it's more ubiquitous than the telephone and some things like government services require online registration (ex. vehicle inspection at the DMV where I live requires an online-only form). I also believe the poor should get free access, and maybe some day free 'loaned OLPC netbooks.
However, he's going about explaining why being banned from the internet is wrong in entirely the wrong way. His defense is basically "I should have the right to be entertained and use free services that there are offline alternatives of!!" If I were an ISP i'd want to ban a guy who uploaded 3 copies of the same song and RAW images too.
We need to build an internet without ISPs if we want to keep what we have.
I think its important to note the lack of competition. I wonder what that cap and price would be if there were even one other provider in the same area?
I live in a small mid-western city and have as of now 3 wired choices plus N wireless choices (depending if you you 4g providers, etc).